Diet experts say, ‘obesity is directly linked to what you eat and when you eat’. And you have probably heard this a hundred times. But ‘Does eating late at night make you gain weight?’
My patients often come to me concerned about their diet timings. It seems like modern life and its strains have pushed the normal routine out of the window. They eat breakfast on the run, lunch is often a miss, and dinner is the only meal that comes at the end of the day with a little peace.
But does dinner really mean the end of the day?
Well, for some it’s just the beginning of the night hours. The binge-watching and fridge staring starts to post 11 pm. And this is where everything goes haywire. When people eat at night that has very little to do with hunger. It’s more about satisfying the cravings to cope with either stress or boredom.
The Ayurvedic perception of diet
Ayurveda says lunch is the most important meal of that day. It should be eaten between 12 noon and 2 pm, which is when the Sun is at its peak and so is the Pitta in our bodies.
The timing between breakfast and lunch should be adjusted in a way that the former gets digested before the later comes in. And the intermediate time between the two meals must be a complete gap for the digestive system to work properly.
The dinner should be early and light. A heavy dinner can cause indigestion troubles that can cause sleep problems.
Ideally, people should sleep early. But considering the current lifestyle, the bedtime is pushed past 11 pm. So, it is natural to get an urge to eat. As such the best possible option is to pick something healthy over the unhealthy junks.
Also Read: How much food should you eat everyday?
The equation of weight loss
Obesity comes down to a simple math equation, “Calorie intake vs calorie burn”.
If the intake of calories is much more than the calorie burnt during the day then it is bound to accumulate as fats bulging from the waist. And in the middle of the night, people intend to feed on the junk!
That means more and more calories dumped in the body when it is least willing to process.
Plus, burning calories is not that easy!
That’s why we have deduced that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.
Also Read: Can exercise alter your food choices?
The circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock synchronized to nature’s clock. According to the circadian rhythm, night time is for resting not for eating. As they say, timing is everything. There is a time to sleep and then there is a time to eat. Messing with one will automatically disrupt the other.
Sleeping late makes you crave more. And these cravings are more often unhealthy binges. Foods that are high in saturated fats disrupt the circadian clock.
Does eating late at night make you gain weight – Research Speaks
Research studies at Rush University Medical Center established a link between sleep, diet and weight. Irregular sleeping and eating patterns have an impact on obesity.
The researchers concluded that people who sleep less consume more calories. They are more likely to binge on fast food and sweetened beverages. They reported having a higher BMI.
Studies also found that eating at night led to twice as much weight gain. Even when total calories consumed were the same. Some studies also identified a link between eating late and increased weight gain. Many concluded that caloric intake after 8:00 p.m. may increase the risk of obesity.
Another clinical analysis showed that, on average, people ate food during an 11-hour window and had 7 hours of sleep each night. The results of the study showed that people who eat later in the day had a higher BMI and greater body fat.
Along with the extra calories, eating too close to bedtime also causes indigestion. This in turn causes more sleep problems.
Also Read: Coping with Boredom
4 Reasons to avoid eating at night
1. Weight issues
The calories ingested at late hours will get stored as fat in the body which leads to an increase in weight.
2. Memory concerns
The late-night cravings do not just affect your waistline. It is also harmful to your brain.
3. Acid Refluxes
Eatinglate at night increases the risk for heart pain, acidity, chest pain and acid reflux.
4. Eating disorders
Messing up with the circadian rhythm and dumping junk on the body can lead to eating disorders. Most likely to build a habit of repetitive night-time eating without reason.
The art of eating right
- Eat your meal 2 hours before bedtime.
- Take a walk or move a bit after dinner and before bed.
- Satiate your late-night hunger pangs with something healthy.
- Avoid stuffing unhealthy food in the house.
- Drink water to make you feel fuller.
- Avoid desserts and high-calorie meals any time of the day.
- Destress and maintain a good sleep routine.
Also Read: Ways to beat middle age weight gain
Does eating late at night make you gain weight – Final verdict!
Eating at night is linked to weight gain. But more than the time of the day it’s the choice of the food that matters. According to Ayurveda, the body retains its balance when things are done in the right way at the right time.
So, be it eating or sleeping, disrupting one would mean messing the balance. And this could lead to a lot of health issues, and weight gain is just the beginning of it all. Obesity, diabetes, stress, depression and even cancer. This little late-night regime puts a lot at stake.